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Current Top 10

  1. The Holy Girl
  2. West of tracks
  3. Whisky
  4. Nobody Knows
  5. Le Moindre Geste
  6. Los Muertos
  7. 2046
  8. La Blessure
  9. Tropical Malady
  10. L'esquive

Unseen contenders :
Born into Brothels (Briski/Kauffman); War at a Distance (Farocki); Los Angeles Plays Itself (Andersen)


R A T I N G   S Y S T E M

++++ FLARE : Must See

FLAWED : Inspired

FAIR : Skillful

+ FLIMSY : Lazy

FORMAL : Average

: Dissmissed




2004 Diary : spontaneous impressions


Don't Look Now (1973/Nicolas Roeg/UK) +++
Capturing the same gloomy atmosphere of this italian tortuous city than Visconti's Death in Venice 2 years earlier, Roeg creates a haunting thriller merging the bounderies between subconscious nightmares and reality. A film full of symbols and surrealism. Magnificent photography with a creative montage.

Histoire(s) du Cinéma : Morceaux Choisis (2000/Godard/France) +
Godard's own digested 35mm summary, in 84 min, from his made-for-TV video serial of 8 episodes (315'). I didn't see the original serie, but the glimpse I got from this piece is enough to figure this is Godard talking to himself, name-dropping all the great filmmakers of his friends, quoting literary auhors, and playing around unsuccessfuly with stroboscopic superimpressions and frame-by-frame slow motion of famous masterpiece clips. Some smart comments digressing into his personal political agenda.


Maria Full of Grace (2004/Joshua Marston/Colombia/USA) +++
Powerful and delicate journey of a young emancipated girl aged 17, who becomes a drug-mule to carry in her stomach balls of heroin to NYC at her own risks. Humble storytelling, acute dailylife details, remarkable performances from a great ensemble cast! Especially Catalina Sandino Moreno the title actress, keen and confident.

Dias de Campo (2004/Raoul Ruiz/Chile) +++
Ruiz is back home after a long exile. Multilayered conversations between 2 friends throughout several generations at once and mixing dream and reality in a complex rendition of the novelist creative space around writer's block and nostalgic memories. Don Federico, an imaginist novelist, is alternatively dead in a Limbo-café, middle-aged with his faithful servant Paulita in his ranch, or projected back in the 19th century when his current issues are re-enacted. surrealist atmosphere and literary narration.

L'Enfant de Paris (1913/Léonce Perret/France) ++
The story of an orphan girl, Jeanne-Marie, who lost her father in a battle in Algeria during french colonialism. Her mother died of sorrow. She runs away from an unfriendly boardschool and is kidnapped in the street. Unusual attention to lighting and mise-en-scene for this early time.


Element of Crime (1984/Lars Von Trier/Denmark) +++
Lars von Trier debut feature. First installment of a tryptic on Europe. Masterful innovative cinematography and sophisticalted atmospheric set design moving the universe of a neo-noir into black/yellow tones. Rich sets providing for long plan-sequence reminiscent to Has' polish trademark, or Buñuel surrealist situations.

Orphans of the Storm (1921/Griffith/USA) +
Based on a true story: Robespierre saved 2 orphans sisters who came to Paris during the pre-revolution build up. One of them is blind, the other is kidnapped by a fiesty aristocrat. Meanwhile Danton and Robespierre give lectures in the street to raise the people against the monarchy.

L'Anglaise et le Duc (2001/Rohmer/France/UK) ++
Inspired by Griffith's Orphans of the storm, Rohmer used the same static shots for studio-exteriors in the crowded Paris. Pushing the abstraction to set his characters in hand-painted postcards backgrounds, with hi-contrast colors. Based on the diary of an english aristocrat lady who lived the dark hours of the post-revolution Commune period when the people beheaded the royal family.


Faust (1926/Murnau/Germany) ++++
Splendid adapatation of Goethe's poem, with Jan Jennings as a wicked Mefisto in satin cape. The photography of this fight between light and shadows is exceptional. A really bad print for my screening tho...

City Girl / Our Daily Bread (1930/Murnau/USA) ++
Inspired by Chaplin's Woman of Paris, and Flaherty's Nanook, Murnau became fully american, makes a realist romance, no longer expressionist, an opposite counterpart of Sunrise, where the city-girl is the legit wife who must make her husband a man despite the patriarcal misogynist society of the country.


Tartuffe (1925/Murnau/Germany) ++
Murnau adapats the french classic for his pet actor Emil Jennings, on his request, before shooting Faust. A theatrical comedy with the density of an expressionist lighting. Murnau opens a window for a theatre play within the frame of his film, summoning the dramatic art into cinema, disguised as an ambulant kinorama. Film within a film.

La petite marchande d'allumette (1928/Renoir/France) ++
The Andersen tale adaptated by Renoir for his first short film. Combines toy animation and real-life actors within the same frame using perspective tricks, for the fairy dream sequence.

Fétiche / The Mascot (1935/Starewicz/FR) ++
Animation of toys among real people on film with incredible realisme. The sawdust-stuffed dog and the fishbone or hen-squeleton stop-motion show the determinant influence on the later czech animator genius Jan Svankmajer. The story of a puppydog's adventures to find an orange for his little girl owner remind of Spielberg's A.I. especially in the toy's hell.


Saraband (2004/Bergman/Sweden) ++
Made for TV, projected at digital venue only. A follow up of the story of Marianne and Johan, divorced couple of Scenes from a Marriage (a made for TV epic). Very stagey direction cut in a dozen sequences featuring a different combination of protagonists by pair. Opened and closed by Liv Ullman's frontal-camera monologs contemplating a life in photographies. Film dedicated to Ingrid Thulin, deceased last year.

Café Lumière (2004/Hou Hsiao-hsien/Japan) ++++
Proclaimed homage to Ozu's centenial, the film re-enact Ozu's traditional family drama with a new generation gap today's Japan, "Ozu's children" are parents now, and their daughter announces her father-les pregnancy. Omnipresence of trains in a labyrintic Tokyo. The homage to Ozu is indirect, and the style is closer to Kore-eda or K. Kurosawa. The central homage is to a taiwainese composer who studied in Japan. Inidentally the father of the girl's baby is taiwanese too.


Shoah (1985/Claude Lanzmann/France) ++++
Monumental documentary work lasting 9 1/2 hours based on interviews of first hand witness (jewish survivors and SS supervisors) of this wordless thing which was the systemic extermination of every last european jew by Hitler's Final Solution. An evil secret fiercy defended by the nazi. For the first time, full details of the despicable procedure for this oiled death machine are revealed to the world. The architecture of the film moves from shapeless suggestions to the most sordid detail without any archive footage, entirely shot on location around the death camps of Auschwitz, Treblinka, Chelmno and Belzec. Lanzmann was present to debate his film with the audience. Complete review coming up...


Depuis qu'Otar est parti... (2003/Bertccelli/France/Georgia) +++
Julie Bertccelli in attendance, told us all about the filming conditions with a script translated in 3 languages (french/russian/georgian)

Living in Oblivion (DiCillo/USA) +++
a pleasant revisit of this adorable film on cinema making.

Repulsion (Polanski/UK) +++
Catherine Deneuve is pathologicaly frigid, a phobia for men leading her into madness locked in alone at home for days with a rotting rabbit and her hallucinations beautifully descripted by an organic space mutating with her delusion.

L'Enfance Nue (Pialat/France) +++
Realist story of a rebel teen orphan moving from one foster family to another. Admirable work with non-actors deep down in the vivid life of country folk.

Kwaidan (Mizoguchi/Japan) +++
Uneven compilation of various vignettes based on medieval japanese tale. The centerpiece about the naval war between the

AfterLife (Kore-eda/Japan) +++
What if Limbo was a plain bureaucrat hotel where a film crew reconstitutes your best memory before you live in it for eternity? Contemplative cinematography, cinema-vérité-like fiction-documentary.


Ali, Fear Eats The Soul (Fassbinder/Germany) +++
Disturbing social satire of a discriminative society alienating outlandish people because they are different. Fassbinder direct deadpan performances (akind to Kaurismaki today) in tight shots with large continuity breaks. The resulting atmosphere is purposely suffocating and thought provocating. The happy ending could be regretable but it's only a parable.

Mon Trèsor / Or (2004/Keren Yedaya/Israel) ++
Depressing jounrey into low class Israel where mother and daughter, living alone, are bound to prostitution to carry on... The 18 yold girl is materning her immature mother with courage and determination in an admirable performance

Red Beard (1965/Kurosawa/Japan) +++
The cinematography is splendid throughout, (especially the screen composition as always), but the drama is very average for the entire first half. It only gets deeper with the story of Otoyo, this segment alone is a masterpiece.

Ivan's Childhood (Trakovsky/Russia) +++
WW2 horrors depicted through the life of a 12 yold war orphan turned spy. Some outstanding images with great emotional content. An atmosphere close ot Guerman's Check-Point. The cinematographic experimentation, even if clumsy at times, prefigure the style of the master.

Toute La Mémoire Du Monde (Resnais/France) +++
Gorgeous B&W photography for this intelligent and poetic documentary on the life of books in the national library with a philosophic commentary on civilisation and human memory.


Chats Perchés (2004/Chris Marker/France) -
I just saw the last Marker tonight at the Centre Pompidou (museum of modern art): Chats Perchés, which I would translate into A cat with a Grin (see picture) :D
This is kinda Marker's version of Fahrenheit 911... A retrospective of hot politics events taking place in France since november 2001 (anti-war protests, the fascist/Chirac duel at last presidency, various social strikes, the islamic veil controversy, death of actress Marie Trintignant murdered by her b/f, communist propaganda...) following the narrative track of occurances of this mysterious graffiti cat on the walls and streets of Paris.
I didn't really like it. It's a video-grade made-for-TV mockumentary with limited commentary and bad video effects. I guess it serves as an archive of french politics only. Disappointing.
available on DVD at Arte video R2, french version, Bonus : few shorts by Marker.

Innocence : Ghost in the Shell II (2004/Oshii/Japan) ++
Impressive computer assisted anime, with 3D rendering and special FX. Obviously the original manga by Masamune Shirow (creator of Akira) is rock solid, fully detailed in robotic design and futurist architecture. The philosophy around cybernetic and the desire of man to become a God creating life, making robots to his image, the labyrinth of cyberspace, the illusion of reality in the mind... is quite interesting but really heavy, constantly illustrated by philosophers quotes like Confucius or Descartes... Nonetheless this sequel to Ghost in the shell is visually stunning! especially the 3D design and the cyberspace FX already developped in his earlier motion picture Avalon. I strongly suggest to watch this film dubbed in your language because the original voices are very plain, and the subtitles fly by.

Adieu (2004/Arnaud des Pallières/France) ++
very dense and formaly borderline experimental... I'll let it rest a bit before sorting my thoughts about it. For now I think it failed because of the diffusion of too many topics. But I relaize this might be the objective of a "deconstructive" aproach... (maybe the kind of thing Gobard fans would like) Unlike anything else, quite difficult to get into it, but worth a look.



Paris vu par... (1965/France) +++
Omnibus of the Nouvelle Vague, each filmmaker making a 15' short docu-fiction portrait of a quarter in Paris.
-St Germain des Près by Jean douchet.
-Gare du Nord by Jean Rouch, with Barbet Schroeder.
-Rue St Denis by Daniel Pollet, with Micheline Dax, Gilbert Melki
-Place de l'Etoile by Eric Rohmer
-Montparnasse & Levalois by Godard
-La Muette by Chabrol, with Chabrol, Stephane Audran.

Paris vu par... 20 ans après (1984/France)
Same concept made by the new generation.
-J'ai faim, j'ai froid by Chantal Ackerman
-Place Clichy by B. Dubois
-Rue Fontaine by P. Garrel
... will watch the rest later

Peter Ibbetson (1935/Hataway/USA)
A surrealist fiction about the paranormal powers of the subconscious linking beings miles away apart through dreams and imagination. Strange connection and oniric trips when night comes.

Glumov's Diary (1923/Eisenstein/Russia)
His first short playing with basic effects to disolve a clown into various objects like a car or animals...

Bezhin Meadow (1937/Eisenstein/Russia)
Opposition of the old conservative russia and the younger generation supporting the communist revolution, in the countryside. A revolutionary son is killed by his father and fires up a civil war in the village. Film destroyed during WW2, reconstitued by a slideshow of film stills according to Eisenstein's storyboard. Even without the motion, Eduard Tisse's photography is magnificent.

Romance sentimentale (1930/Eisenstein/France)
A visual experiment developping his soviet montage theory by colliding images together in a rapidfire editing of various graphic studies of lines and movements with the sea, trees along the road, falling trees, a woman playing piano...


Le Moindre Geste (1971/2004/Deligny/Manenti/France) ++++
Superb photographic work on the distanciated reality in mental illness. A film shot by psychologs who took care of autistic teens in the 60ies. This experimental fiction stars Yves a 25yold autist. The film, shown in Cannes in 1971, was lost for 30 years before being released commercialy today.

Blissfully Your / Sud sanaeha (2002/Apichatpong Weerasethakul /Thailand) ++++
Contemplative journey in the thai forest, dealing with illness, family dysfunctionment, illegal immigration, sexual desir, and carpe diem love. Most creative cinematography.


The House of the Flying Daggers (2004/Zhang Yimou/China) 0
Disappointingly hollow, this second wuxia opera orchestrated by the maker of Hero is a plain love story featuring a romantic triangle generating secret jealousy and competition in the midst of an underdevelopped plot showing the government hunt for subversive clans in ancient China. Costumes and sets are splendid, the photography never reach the achievements of the previous film, although some of the fights are well directed. Maybe trying too hard with too much showoff.


Incident at Loch Ness (2004/Zak Penn/UK) +
I hadn't read anything on it, and wasn't prepared, so I bought into it. I thought it was a documentary, while in fact it's a mockumentary, one destined to film buffs or fans of Werner Herzog.
If you liked Lost in La Mancha, the (real) documentary on Terry Gilliam's Don Quichotte's demise, you'll like Incident at Loch Ness. (obviously inspired by it)
The cynism in colliding Werner Herzog and a Hollywood producer reminds as well of this cult polish mockumentary Polish Kitsh Project (by Marius Pujszo). A self-criticism of the commercial movie industry.
Summer 2003, a crew is making a documentary on Herzog's latest project which is a documentary on the myth of the Loch Ness monster, Nessie, in Scotland. Herzog states upfront he doesn't believe in the monster, but wants to understand why people need to believe in supernatural things like alien abduction or BigFoot. Zak Penn, a former screenwriter turned producer, offered Herzog to fund this project, and secretly makes sure it reaches out for a wider audience. So he invited a playboy model as a sonar opearator, and an obsessive scientist nut to "dramatize" the shooting, as well as a remote controlled monster-miniature for "re-creations". But Herzog figures out the hoax, like the local population...
Could have been excellent, but the acting is merely believable, despite a true involvement by Herzog. It's really funny tho, and should be taken with a lot of irony.
Opening on a dinner at Werner's villa on Wonderland Ave in L.A., featuring Jeff Goldblum, Crispin Glover, and other members of the cast. Clips from Herzog films inserted with commentaries.


Maborosi (1995/Kore-eda/Japan) ++++
Respectful and delicate portrait of a woman mourning her suicided husband. She wants to know why. The silence weights around her and inside her. She remarry and life carries on with a dangerous gap between her and the rest of the world. She is the one prisonner in Limbo. Passive cinematography filming daily life excerpts from the outside without narrative comments. A great double bill with Bresson's Une Femme Douce, or Bertolucci's Dernier Tango à Paris.


Watercolor and oil canvas exhibition of his work in Paris from 1967 till now, at the crypt of Notre Dame de Paris.


Taste of Tea / Cha No Aji (2004/Katsuhito Ishii/Japan) ++
Feature film made by Katsuhito Ishii (animator who did the anime segment in Kill Bill 1), delirious and delicious slow paced ensemble comedy-drama about the world of childhood in rural japan, an homage to anime in film, really funny and warm hearted.

Snow in spring / Shunsetsu (2004/ Hiroshi Toda/Japan) ++
A psychiatrist after working with senile patients affected by alzeihmer, makes this first film with friends and members of his staff. A poetical portrait of a young family dealing with the grand father degrading health. A symbolic dream sequence in a temple articulates the dreadful conclusion to abandon the old man in the snowy mountain.