Rendez-Vous with French Cinema 2018

“The cinephiles attending the twenty-third edition of Rendez-Vous With French Cinema at the Film Society of Lincoln Center this year may relate a little too hard to Jean-Paul Civeyrac’s new film, A Paris Education, about a movie-obsessed young man named Etienne (Andranic Manet) who moves to Paris to attend film school,” writes Kristen Yoonsoo Kim for the Village Voice. “The entire twenty-four-film series (co-presented with UniFrance) is a Francophilic affair, but Civeyrac’s black-and-white coming-of-age drama feels especially French, following as it does a protagonist reminiscent of a Godard–Truffaut–Rohmer male lead . . . as he makes films and encounters a string of women, some whom influence his political outlook. There’s even a self-effacing moment when one of Etienne’s classmates complains about ‘whiny French films’—a label that could certainly apply to A Paris Education, though it’s admittedly immensely enjoyable for the entirety of its sprawling two-plus-hour runtime.”

In his overview for Artforum of this year’s edition, opening today and running through March 18, Tony Pipolo focuses on Léonor Serraille’s Montparnasse Bienvenüe (and here are reviews from Cannes), Léa Mysius’s Ava (Cannes), and Bruno Dumont’s Jeannette, The Childhood of Joan of Arc (2017; Cannes), “an eccentric, entrancing, altogether reverent treatment—score courtesy of Igorrr (aka Gautier Serre)—of the legendary jeun fille. As he did in The Life of Jesus (1997), Dumont fuses the sacred and the mundane to conjure a vision that brings the supernatural down to Earth even as it revivifies its tantalizing mysteries.”

At ScreenAnarchy, Dustin Chang previews Jeannette; Mathieu Amalric’s Barbara with Jeanne Balibar (Cannes); Emmanuel Finkel’s A Memoir of War with Mélanie Thierry, “a revelation as Marguerite, a learned, intellectual woman who slowly gets broken emotionally”; Raymond Depardon’s 12 Days, “a fascinating documentation of the unseen, underexposed mental problems the modern society faces”; Nobuhiro Suwa’s The Lion Sleeps Tonight with Jean-Pierre Léaud and Louis-Do de Lencquesaing; Xavier Legrand’s Custody (Critics Round Up); and Montparnasse Bienvenüe.

Update: For Vague Visages, Marshall Shaffer previews Custody,Ava,Montparnasse Bienvenüe, Xavier Beauvois’s The Guardians (reviews), and Hubert Charuel’s “gripping, tight ethical drama,” Petit Paysan.

Update, 3/9:Jonathan Romney for Film Comment on Montparnasse Bienvenüe: “Premiered in Cannes last May, months before the Weinstein revelations broke, it’s as if Serraille’s vigorously feminist feature was ready poised to make its wider public appearance once #MeToo and Time’s Up had changed the tenor of gender discussion in movies and in the world.”

Update, 3/14: “Judging from the best work I’ve seen in this year’s edition of Rendez-Vous with French Cinema,” writes the New Yorker’s Richard Brody, “the youthfulness in current French movies is being provided largely by filmmakers far advanced in their careers.” Bruno Dumont’s “vision of youth,” for example, “serves as a two-hour reproach to most of the current-day French cinema; a system of centralized and highly selective French film schools, followed by competition for official subsidies, has turned many young French filmmakers into participants in an existing system. One young filmmaker who has managed to create her own system, nevertheless, is the Swiss director Maryam Goormaghtigh, who has made a film of extraordinary originality, Before Summer Ends, with just a few thousand dollars, one assistant, her own camera, and a car.” And Eugène Green’s Waiting for the Barbarians is “a fusion of magic and reason, analysis and wonder, that could also serve as a formula for the value of scholarly learning—and of the value of an audaciously free deployment of it.”

Update, 3/15:Critics Round Up has put together an entry on Raymond Depardon’s 12 Days.

Update, 3/24:Film Comment presents the winners of the Salut les Jeunes Critiques essay-writing contest, Amy Chabassier’s review of Léa Mysius’s Ava and Daniel Witkin’s piece on Eugène Green’s Waiting for the Barbarians.

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