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September 26 - December 12, 2005

Contemporary French Cinema

 


September 26 (Monday) 7 pm

My Sex Life... Or How I Got Into An Argument (Comment je me suis disputée... (ma vie sexuelle))

Directed by Arnaud Desplechin
France, 1996, Color, 178 min.
With Mathieu Amalric, Emmanuelle Devos, Emmanuel Salinger
French with English subtitles

29-year-old graduate philosophy student Paul Dedalus (Amalric) has difficulty making decisions—like how to finish his thesis, or which woman he wants to be with: his on/off/on-again girlfriend of the past 10 years, his feisty colleague, or his best friendís fiancée. Plenty of conversation and gamesmanship—intellectual and sexual—take place among the ensemble cast, as Paul juggles his desires and his responsibilities, meandering along the fuzzy border between student life and adulthood.  Desplechin's novelistic romanticism and droll sense of humor (a professor and rival of Paul's has a beloved pet monkey) accentuate this dissection of love and friendship.

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October 3 (Monday) 7 pm

The Lovers on the Bridge (Les amants du Pont Neuf)

Directed by Leos Carax
France 1991, Color, 125 min.
With With Juliette Binoche, Denis Lavant, Klaus-Michael Grüber
French with English subtitles

Director Leos Carax earned the title of enfant terrible with this ambitious love story set along the banks of the Seine.  Denis Lavant and Juliette Binoche portray two lovers from very different walks of life drawn together by l'amour fou. Carax was not allowed to film on the actual Pont Neuf bridge so he elected to build a set to scale outside of Paris, causing his film's budget to skyrocket. The end result was deemed a scandalous failure in Europe and was not released in the U.S. for another seven years.  Only recently has Carax's wild vision been recognized as one of the great works of the contemporary French cinema.

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October 17 (Monday) 7 pm

Romance

Directed by Catherine Breillat
France, 1999,  Color, 98 min.
With Caroline Ducey, Sagamore Stévenin, François Berléand
French with English subtitles

Breillat's controversial examination of female sexuality sees schoolteacher Marie (Ducey) set off on a series of sexual adventures after her male model boyfriend loses interest in her. She picks up Paolo (played by Italian porn star Rocco Siffredi) at a dance club, gets tied up by her school principal, who happens to be a bondage expert, encounters a violent stranger, and is examined by a team of gynecologists, pondering the nature of her own sexuality throughout.  Though some have found its graphic imagery distressing, Romance intelligently creates startling new metaphors for the classic mind-body dilemma.

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October 24 (Monday) 6:30 pm
October 30 (Sunday) 7 pm - Director Bruno Dumont In Person

Humanity (L'Humanité)

Directed by Bruno Dumont
France, 1999, Color, 148 min.
With Emmanuel Schotté, Séverine Caneele, Philippe Tullier
French with English subtitles

See Description in On Set with French Cinema

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October 25 (Tuesday) 9:15 pm
October 29 (Saturday) 7 pm

The Life of Jesus (La Vie de Jésus)

Directed by Bruno Dumont
France, 1997, Color, 96 min.
With With Sèbastien Bailleul, Samuel Boidin, Geneviéve Cottreel
French with English subtitles

See Description in On Set with French Cinema

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October 29 (Saturday) 9 pm
November 2 (Wednesday) 9 pm

Twentynine Palms

Directed by Bruno Dumont
France/Germany/US, 2003, Color, 119 min.
With Yekaterina Golubeva, David Wissak
French with English subtitles

See Description in On Set with French Cinema

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November 7 (Monday) 7 pm

Wild Side

Directed by Sébastien Lifshitz
France, 2004, Color, 95 min.
With With Stéphanie Michelini, Edouard Nikitine, Yasmine Belmadi
French with English subtitles

Stépahnie (Michelini), a transsexual prostitute, lives life on the edge, pursuing tricks in Parisian discotheques, parks and hotel rooms.  Accompanying her through many of these escapades is Jamel (Belmadi), a North African hustler who welcomes the nightlife with Stéphanie as a means of escape from his dreary days in a housing project.  When Stéphanie meets Mikael (Nikitine), an illegal Russian immigrant, they establish an unconventional union with Jamel that fulfills their needs for emotional comfort.  Director Sébastien Lifshitz created a stir at this year's Berlin Film Festival with a work that challenges the notion of family values with Fassbinder-esque defiance.

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November 14 (Monday) 7 pm

Beau Travail (aka Good Work)

Directed by Claire Denis
France, 1999, Color, 90 min.
With Denis Lavant, Michel Subor, Grégoire Colin
French with English subtitles

In this loose adaptation of Herman Melville's Billy Budd, Claire Denis takes a captivating look at the rituals of life in the French Foreign Legion, an army with no real purpose anymore.  Denis Lavant stars as Galoup, a mercenary who remains emotionally isolated from the men with whom he rigorously trains.  His quiet existence is disrupted by the arrival of a promising recruit who draws the attention of the troop's commanding officer.  Focusing on the beauty of the human form and with a clear nod to Riefenstahl's Olympia, Denis presents life in the barren North African landscape (familiar territory for the director, who was raised on the continent) with haunting intensity.

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November 21 (Monday) 7 pm

Sombre

Directed by Philippe Grandrieux
France, 1998, Color, 112 min.
With Marc Barbé, Elina Löwensohn, Géraldine Voillat
French with English subtitles

A daring stylistic experiment on a familiar theme, Sombre tells the story of a monster abroad in France, lugging puppets and a wolf disguise, leaving a trail of brutally murdered women behind him. His existence is gray, banal, and meaningless until this horribly isolated soul meets a virgin who loves him.  Blending avant-garde techniques and imagery within a narrative film, director Grandrieux draws us into a hypnotic nightmare, where the conventions of the serial-killer genre are transcended so as to propel us into even more complex and disturbing territory.  As the angst-ridden murderer, Marc Barbé is superb, but Elina Löwensohn, familiar as a self-contained Hal Hartley heroine, steals the show entirely. (Film notes reprinted from the Film Society of Lincoln Center.)

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November 28 (Monday) 7 pm

Wesh Wesh, What's Happening? (Wesh wesh, qu'est-ce qui se passe?)

Directed by Rabah Ameur Zaïmeche
France, 2001, Color, 83 min.
With Rabah Ameur-Zaïmeche, Ahmed Hammoudi, Brahim Ameur-Zaïmeche
French and Arabic with English subtitles

Rabah Ameur Zaïmeche directs and stars in his debut feature film, which was feted at the 2002 Berlin Film Festival and the European Film Awards.  He portrays Kamel, an ex-convict who returns to his old Paris neighborhood after serving a five-year prison sentence. He struggles to establish a straight life but the pressures of urban poverty become too much for him and his family.

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December 5 (Monday) 7 pm

Human Resources

Directed by Laurent Cantet
France, 1999, Color, 100 min.
French with English subtitles

Frank, a Parisian business school student, takes an internship in the Human Resources department at the factory where his father has labored for the past thirty years. When Frank's efforts to better the company lead to the firing of many employees, including his father, a furious confrontation ensues, forcing father and son to ponder their relationship. This stunning debut film from director Laurent Cantet is one of the most interesting films of the New French Cinema.

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December 12 (Monday) 7 pm

In the Land of the Deaf

Directed by Nicholas Philibert
France, 1992, Color, 99 min.
French with English subtitles

Nicholas Philibert's documentary features hearing-impaired people of all ages and from all walks of life. The film focuses on the students and teachers in a French school for deaf children before exploring the personal lives of some of the pupils and various adults, including an actor, a sign-language teacher, and an engaged couple. Sensitive and fascinating, In the Land of the Deaf is a moving account of its subjects' lives.

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