CINEFRANCO at Canada Square from Friday (March 28) to April 3. Single tickets $10, discounts on multiple ticket purchases, stu/srs $6. For complete schedule, see Rep Cinemas, page 96. 416-928-6595.
Here comes the sixth edition of CinéFranco, the annual survey of French-language films that didn't get programmed into the Toronto International Film Festival. This says more about the way French cinema remains a consistent blind spot for the festival than it does about the quality of the films in CinéFranco, which is the usual mixed bag.
Some quick takes, in order of their screening times:
Parlez-moi d'amour D: Sophie Marceau, w/ Judith Godrèche, Niels Arestrup. Saturday (March 29), 8:30 pm. 98 minutes. Rating: NNN
sophie marceau's directorial debut shows a remarkably fluid grasp of the moving camera. The opening shot, following a family through its getting-up rituals, is so complicated that I want the DVD so I can look for hidden cuts.
For the film's first hour, Marceau's strong take on the dynamics of an imploding marriage pivots around a tremendous performance by Judith Godrèche. The last half-hour is less satisfactory and devolves into either planned chaos or narrative incoherence, depending on how closely you're paying attention.
CARNAGES D: Delphine Gleize, w/ Chiara Mastroianni. Sunday (March 30), 10 pm. 133 minutes. Rating: NNN
this extremely odd french-spanish co-production has been on the festival circuit since Cannes last year. It's the story of the corpse of a bull slain in the corrida, which is believed to have healing powers and travels around Europe on a truck, intersecting the lives of a variety of characters. Almost unsynopsizable, it's worth a couple of looks, just to sort it out. Alas, CinéFranco only has one screening.
See How They Run D: Michel Blanc, w/ Charlotte Rampling, Carole Bouquet. Monday (March 31), 7 pm. 103 minutes. Rating: N
you know how certain large-cast comedies have that annoying character or couple who are there to contrast with the characters we like? This comedy has nothing but those characters. Everyone in it is venal, social-climbing, leading a secret life or insanely jealous.
Very tough sledding to sit through a comedy set in a fashionable resort where you're appalled by all the characters, who aren't terribly funny to begin with.
Laissez-passer D: Bertrand Tavernier, w/ Jacques Gamblin, Denis Podalydès. Wednesday (April 2), 9:15 pm. 170 minutes. Rating: NNNN
The latest from bertrand tavernier is based on the reminiscences of screenwriter Jean Aurenche and director Jean-Devaivre, who worked in the French film industry during the German occupation.
Tavernier knew them both. Laissez-Passer is a slightly romantic treatment of the Resistance, but also an homage to the survival skills and the romance of filmmaking itself, which overcomes even the necessity of being funded by the Germans.
If you're fascinated by the pre-New Wave French cinema, this is a highly entertaining look at the era, and Tavernier, master of the steadicam, gives us a fluid, specific epic. I do use "epic" advisedly; it's almost three hours long, so grab an espresso or two.
Gangsters D: Olivier Marchal, w/ Richard Anconina, Anne Parillaud. Thursday (April 3), 5 pm. 90 minutes. Rating: NNNN
here's an unusually gritty cop
thriller with some monumentally baroque plot twists writhing through it. Richard Anconina stars as a cop so deeply undercover that even the cops no longer know he's one of them.
Tremendously atmospheric. I don't know how realistic it is, but Gangsters certainly smells real. Marchal spent a decade as a cop in Paris before turning to cinema, and his interrogation rooms and holding cells have a convincing feel.
Opening this week: BASIC -- THE CORE -- DEADEND.COM -- HEAD OF STATE -- NOWHERE IN AFRICA -- STEVIE