Screening Room: ‘Things to Come’

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Isabelle Huppert plays a philosophy teacher whose life gets thrown for a loop in Mia Hansen-Love’s brilliant new drama.

Things to Come is opening this week in limited release. My review is at Film Journal International:

After taking a detour into the vagabond world of dance-music DJs with the disappointingly blah Eden, Mia Hansen-Løve returns fantastically to form with Things to Come. It’s the kind of urbane, Éric Rohmer-inflected drama that the still-young writer-director has been turning out for a few years now and hopefully will continue to make for decades to come. There are any number of filmmakers who can make stories about Parisians with matters of the world and the heart weighing them down. But few approach them with the kind of questing emotional honesty that Hansen-Løve specializes in…

Here’s the trailer:

Screening Room: ‘Diary of a Chambermaid’

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MirbeauChambermaidDiaryIn Octave Mirbeau’s scandalous 1900 novel, Diary of a Chambermaid, he uses the exploits of a canny maid unencumbered by bourgeois morality to satirize the hypocrisies and power games of French society. It’s been filmed a couple times, most famously by Luis Bunuel with Jeanne Moreau in the title role.

Benoît Jacquot’s new version stars Léa Seydoux (Blue is the Warmest Color) and is playing now in limited release. My review is at Film Journal International:

The loathsomeness of humanity is so thickly painted in this latest adaptation of Octave Mirbeau’s satirical novel that by the time anti-Semitism and murder rear their head, they almost can’t bring the film’s opinion of its characters any lower. That isn’t to say that director BenoîtJacquot doesn’t relish watching his players scheme and plot their way around hard work or simple decency. In this world, fin de siècle French society is a rigged game. Those not born to its few crucial advantages of money or place have to do what they can to survive. Of course, many don’t put as much into that struggle as his manipulative heroine Célestine (Léa Seydoux), who hasn’t met a corner she didn’t cut or an angle she didn’t play…

Here’s the trailer:

Screening Room: ‘The New Girlfriend’

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In Francois Ozon’s The New Girlfriend, after a woman’s childhood friend dies, she discovers that her friend’s husband has a secret. Complications of a romantic and gender-blurring nature ensue.

My review of The New Girlfriend, which opens this week in limited release, at PopMatters:

There is a sharp, sublime Almodóvar film trapped inside the blurry outlines of François Ozon’s The New Girlfriend (Une nouvelle amie), as if aching to get out. You can see this in The New Girlfriend‘s sly opening, with its finely sculpted woman being dressed seemingly for a wedding before the gag is revealed, and in the moments of interlaced satire and desire in later sections. But Ozon’s highly polished surface allows for none of the Spanish filmmaker’s lurking wit or malevolence. Though Ozon’s penchant for putting pretty people in mildly baffling situations makes it hard to take his work straight, so to speak, this is the course with which you’re left in this ultimately confused film…

Here’s the trailer:

Screening Room: ‘Eden’ Goes to the Rave

'Eden': The party never ends (Broad Green Pictures).
‘Eden’: The party never ends (Broad Green Pictures).
Ah, to be young, French, and to care what DJs think or do. That’s the short synopsis of the new film from Mia Hansen-Love, whose Goodbye, First Love was one of the sweeter romantic films of the last few years. This time, Hansen-Love dives into the electronic music scene of the 1990s and throws love into the mix as well.

Eden opens this week, here and there. My review is at Film Racket.

Here’s the trailer:

Now Playing: ‘Bird People’ Perches Between Rapture and Oblivion

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Anaïs Demoustier and friends in ‘Bird People’ (Sundance Selects)

birdpeople-posterTwo people, one hotel next to an airport, an atmosphere of rootlessness, a little bit of magic, and lots of sparrows. Those are the ingredients of Pascale Ferran’s gorgeously odd Bird People, which has almost everything going for it but a story. Plus Bowie.

Bird People is playing in very limited release now and deserves to be sought out. My review is at PopMatters:

Airports are all about promise. Springboards to the great elsewhere, they are also, for passengers en route, a comfortingly null zone wherein the normal rules of adult life are suspended. The promise of airports can be intoxicating. But the reality is more often deadening, not transportive.

In Bird People, Pascale Ferran’s ode to the in-between, Charles de Gaulle airport takes on both qualities. It’s at once an escape and a trap for the unwary…

You can see the trailer here:

New in Theaters: ‘In the House’

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Everyone’s watching everyone in ‘In the House’

in_the_house-posterIn Francois Ozon’s pitch-perfect comedy In the House, a cynical schoolteacher who’s also a failed writer becomes obsessed with a student’s supposedly autobiographical essays about stalking a friend’s family. It’s a sharp piece of work, knowing and cynical without being obvious, and possibly too smart for its own good.

In the House opened this week in limited release.

My full review is available at Film Racket.

Here’s the trailer:

 

 

New in Theaters: ’17 Girls’

My review of the new French film 17 Girls is running now at PopMatters:

Like any good story about an epidemic, 17 Girls starts with a wholly unremarkable incident. High school student Camille (Louise Grinberg, one of the troublemakers in The Class) finds herself in a family way. But instead of hiding in embarrassment or trying to ignore her swelling belly, she flaunts it. Because Camille is the queen bee, her pregnancy begins to look attractive to her buzzing followers. Within months, bellies begin swelling all over town, and the girls are making plans for what they’re going to do with their babies. Among the things they don’t include in their agenda: not smoking or drinking while pregnant, or considering any of the complications that come with being a single teen mother…

17 Girls is playing now in limited release; make sure to check it out.

The trailer is here: