Poster of the Day: Jour de Fête (1949)

Jacques+Tati+4Jour de Fête (1949) – dir. Jacques Tati.

Originally shot in both black and white and colour, Jour de Fête was only released in its black and white version, with some occasional splashes of colour which were applied by hand directly to the frames. Audience goers at the time had to be satisfied with those few frames until the film’s colour version was restored in 1995 (now both versions are available on DVD/Blu Ray). Eye-popping colour, however, was always present in the film’s posters, as seen here.

BFI article on the Thomsoncolor/black and white versions.

jour-de-fete-1949-013-poster-02Jour de Fête follows Tati’s postman who, upon watching a US newsreel showing the efficient transport methods of the Us postal service, attempts – with hilarious results – to modernise his bicycle delivery service. A somewhat less cynical accompaniment to Chaplin’s Modern Times perhaps, in which the innovations of modernity for increased productivity are thrust upon the worker from without – and certainly with considerably less wine consumed. However, the results – hilarious or otherwise – are not dissimilar and a critique of the mechanisation of industry and its effects on the individual can be seen here also in the ridiculous effects these processes have. As human becomes more like machine, as Tati’s postman attempts to deliver a greater volume in a shorter time, as the wheels of his bicycle spin faster and faster, we are on the road to comedy-gold disaster.

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posted by Dixie

Thought of the Day: Love and Jean Moreau

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Jules et Jim (1962) – dir. Francois Truffaut

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HAPPY BIRTHDAY, MADAME MOREAU.

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xXx

And, because everyone’s eyes deserve a feast AND, because love deserves to last for more than a moment:

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Lift to the Scaffold (1958) – dir. Louis Malle

HAS CINEMA EVER LOOKED (OR SOUNDED) BETTER THAN THIS?

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posted by Dixie Turner

New Addition: Les bronzes (1978) + Spotlight on Patrice Leconte

Newly gracing our ever-expanding (and collapsing) shelves:

Les bronzes (1978) – Leconte’s second feature film was this highly successful comedy which centres around a group of holidaymakers in a Club Med-style resort, where sun, sea and sex (and especially sex) is the order of the day.

One of the France’s most well-respected and versatile directors, Patrice Leconte, turned 65 last week. He is one of the elite few to have a Video City shelf dedicated to him – come and make use of this genius system of ours, and have a rifle through some of his other films:

Monsieur Hire (1989) – nominated for the Palme d’Or at Cannes – Based on the book by Belgian author, Georges Simenon, Monsieur Hire is a psychological drama of sexual obsession, guilt and deceit shot with supreme beauty and elegance. Starring Michel Blanc (Girl on the Train) and Sandrine Bonaire (Jeanne la Pucelle).

Trailer

The Hairdresser’s Husband (1990) – nominated for 7 Cesar awards. Roger Ebert said of this film that it was sexier than a dozen Basic Instincts (which, given that the Basic Instinct franchise was already unwatchable at number 2, perhaps isn’t such a huge compliment). A story of strange attractions in which history repeats itself. As a young boy Antoine falls for his suicidal hairdresser and becomes obsessed with having her cut his hair. As a grown man he meets Mathilde who is also a beautiful hairdresser and the two form an intimate – and erotic – bond which ends in tragedy… Starring Jean Rochefort (Tell No-one).

Trailer

Ridicule (1996)  – nominated for an Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film and also for a Palme d’Or. Ridicule is a costume comedy-drama set at the court of Versailles where all must play at games of wit in order to gain the favour of the aristocracy. A fantastic critique of the pomp and callous corruption of the landed gentry to whose amusement all had to pander in order that more pressing concerns be met. Starring Fanny Ardant (Finally, Sunday!) and Jean Rochefort (Man on the Train).

Girl on the Bridge (1999) – romantic drama about two strangers who meet on a bridge when both are at the end of their proverbial rope. Daniel Auteuil (Every French Film You’ve Ever Seen) plays a a down and out knifethrower who sees in Vanessa Paradis (Heartbreaker) the possibility of a new professional partnership which will get him out of a financial fix. Naturally, the professional nature of their relationship bends as an attraction between them develops into a love that neither are prepared for.

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The Widow of Saint-Pierre (2000) – Serbian director, Emir Kusturica (Black Cat White Cat, Underground etc), plays a man imprisoned on the island of Saint-Pierre, awaiting execution for murder. Whilst the guillotine is being shipped over, the wife (played by Juliette Binoche)  of the Captain in command (played by Daniel Auteuil) takes an interest in the man and tries to redeem him.

Trailer

Man on the Train (2002) – Jean Rochefort and Johnny Hallyday star as two strangers who meet on a train – one is a criminal, the other a teacher. The pair form an unlikely bond, each growing to envy aspects of the others’ life, until eventually they decide to trade places.

Trailer

My Best Friend (2006) – hugely successful comedy starring Daniel Auteuil and Dany Boon. A successful business man is challenged one evening to produce his ‘best friend’, as all who know him can see he has no true friends at all. In a desperate bid to track down past acquaintances, old school mates etc, he unwittingly befriends the unassuming taxi driver who has so tirelessly been ferrying him around.

“Irresistably winning” is an apt description, if by ‘winning’ you mean trite and irritating. But nevermind. Immensely successful; hugely popular.

Jean Gabin

Jean Gabin

The BFI are hosting a Jean Gabin season this month – don’t miss it. If, however, you do miss it, or you can’t afford the £10 entry fee, then swing by our Classic French Cinema section and stroke your eyes over some of the following beauties. If your knowledge of classic cinema has been shaped by Hollywood, then you’re in for a real surprise and a treat; whilst Hollywood from the mid-thirties onwards was operating under the stringent Hays Code, which meant anything the Catholic Church demeed to be immoral could not be shown (including husband and wife sleeping in the same bed!), Europe had no such code, and French cinema from the same period appears remarkably fresh, liberal and deliciously immoral in comparison. Enjoy.

Le Quai des Brumes (1938) Directed by Marcel Carne – in a port, thick with heavy fog, love springs up between Jean, the deserter and Nelly, the 17-year old runaway.

Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Lfk5XqrovZ0

La Grande Illusion (1937) Directed by Jean Renoir – allied prisoners of war attempt to escape from a seemingly impenetrable German fortress. Some notes on the film from the New York State Writers’ Institute: http://www.albany.edu/writers-inst/webpages4/filmnotes/fns07n2.html

Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hctrYzVYmfM

La Bete Humaine (1938) Directed by Jean Renoir – a tale of murder, lust and adultery amongst employees of a railway. An article by Hope Lies at 24 Frames Per Second: http://hopelies.com/2011/04/19/encapsulating-the-human-condition-la-bete-humaine/

Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HBLe_J0P7vI

Le Jeur se Leve (1939) Directed by Marcel Carne – a man who has committed the murder of his rival in the affections of two women, locks himself in his hotel room, whilst the police try to smoke him out. Whilst locked in, he recollects the events that led him to kill.

Heartbreak and Her Crooked Sister, Bittersweet Revenge

Les Dames Du Bois De Boulogne (1945)

Robert Bresson’s second film, Les Dames du Bois de Boulogne, is based on a tale by Diderot and features characteristically idiosyncratic dialogue by Jean Cocteau. Maria Casares, who was later cast by Cocteau as Death in his Orphee, plays Helene, a wealthy socialite who has been slighted by Jean, the man she loves. Initially, Helene is caught out by her own game when she tests Jean’s affections by saying that her own affections for him have waned. The bluff backfires when, relieved, he confesses that he no longer loves her as he once did. Helene remains outwardly composed and inwardly resolute as she hatches a plan to avenge herself by making Jean fall in love with a club dancer (a profession that, at the time, was synonymous with prostitution). Claiming the dancer, Agnes, whom Helene has purposefully taken under her wing, is beyond reproach, Helene manipulates all the characters to suit her purpose – she fans Jean’s affections for the dancer, knowing that he won’t be able to resist the image of Agnes that she herself has created; she encourages Agnes’ mother, whom is financially indebted to her, to look upon her as a protector; and she traps and betrays Agnes who wants only to escape her previous life. Ultimately, however, she plays her game too well, and not even the truth is able to destroy love.

Bresson’s characteristic pared-down, sparse style, whilst not yet fully developed here, nonetheless is already evident, adding to Cocteau’s dialogue to create something of a distance between the actors and their subject which gives an added tension and an occasional surreal quality to the most emotive scenes.

The film is a fantastic portrait of the scheming woman who spins a web of deception in which, ultimately, she catches only herself.

Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iPNRC9LFwTg