Wednesday, August 12, 2015

#Venezia72 Check No. 2 - The French

The 2015 Biennale has in the main competition two French directors, Christian Vincent and Xavier Giannoli, which I'm not really much familiar with; but, have seen some of their earlier films because I like the actors. So, interesting will be for me if with this exercise the directors become more relevant that their actors. (Update: No, didn't happen. Sigh)

Christian Vincent

Born on November 5, 1955 in Paris, France. After studying Sociology and film, in 1979 joins the Institut des hautes études cinématographiques (IDHEC) where he does several short films including his first one, 1983 Il ne faut jurer de rien starring none other than Fabrice Luchini.

In 1990 directs and co writes his debut feature film, La discrète, also starring Fabrice Luchini; film opens in 1990 Venice Critics Week were wins the FIPRESCI Prize ex aequo, and most interesting two 1991 César for Best Debut Film and Best Screenplay -also wins Best New Actress. In 1992 his second film, "modest" Beau Fixe, has the most interesting fact as is where Isabelle Carré and Elsa Zylberstein have their firs grand role.

We arrive to 1994 La séparation starring a fantastic duo, Isabelle Huppert and Daniel Auteuil; both deliver outstanding performances in a tale about the disintegration of a couple. His career continues with several films that yes I have seen a few lately on TV and believe are not much more than light entertaining. Will his 2015 L'Hermine bring Vincent back to his early brilliant films? I really hope so and the premiere in competition at Venice fest gives hope that -maybe- he could be back in top form.

Movie title literal translation is "The Stoat", the small carnivorous mammal of the weasel family -which obviously describes the film intention. The film brings together a great cast, Fabrice Luchini and Danish actress Sidse Babett Knudsen -now extremely well-known for her portrayal of Prime Minister Birgit Nyborg Christiansen in excellent TV series Borgen and that soon we will see her in most expected TV series Westworld-. Many believe that this strong cast could have "elevated" film into the consideration of film festivals. Have no expectations about this film, but I'm looking forward to critics first reactions to get an idea if director returned to his early self or not.

Basic info about L'Hermine
Director: Christian Vincent
Scriptwriter: Christian Vincent
Language: French
Production Countries: France
Production Companies: Albertine Productions (Matthieu Tarot), Cinéfrance 1888, France 2 Cinéma, Gaumont
Distribution: Gaumont Distribution

Cast: Fabrice Luchini, Sidse Babett Knudsen

Plot Summary
A tale of seemingly unrequited love between a tough criminal court judge and one of the jurors on a complicated case involving the death of a baby girl. On the first day of a complicated court case, revolving around a man accused of kicking a baby girl to death, he is stunned to see a woman he has silently admired from afar for years, played by Knudsen, enter as one of the jurors.

French: Xavier Racine est un président de cour d’assises redouté. Aussi dur avec lui qu’avec les autres, on l’appelle « le Président à deux chiffres ». Avec lui, on en prend toujours pour plus de dix ans. Tout bascule le jour où Racine retrouve Birgit Lorensen-Coteret. Elle fait partie du jury qui va devoir juger un homme accusé d’homicide. Six ans auparavant, Racine a aimé cette femme. Presque en secret. Peut-être la seule femme qu’il ait jamais aimée.

Xavier Giannoli

Born on March 7, 1970 in Neuilly-Sur-Seine, Hauts-de-Seine, France. After obtaining a degree in Arts from la Sorbonne, Giannoli chooses to go into filmmaking with documentaries and short films. His first remarkable achievement comes in 1998 with the short film L'Interview that went to win the Cannes Palme d'Or for Short Film and a César.

His debut feature film 2003 Les Corps Impatients (Eager Bodies) gets some honors mainly for actor's performances. His second feature film 2005 Une Aventure starring Ludivine Sagnier does not make waves; but his third feature film Quand j'étais chanteur (The Singer) starring a great duo Cécile de France and Gérard Depardieu goes to open in competition at 2006 Cannes.

Perhaps Giannoli is better known today for his fourth feature film, À l'origine (In the Beginning) that opened in 2009 Cannes and got multiple nominations in the 2010 César; the movie has a fantastic cast lead by François Cluzet, Emmanuelle Devos and Gérard Depardieu. Then he does an odd comedy, Superstar, that opens in competition for a Golden Lion at 2012 Venice fest; confess saw film as is with Cécile de France, but if I had skip it, would have not missed much, sigh.

Most interesting -and a bit puzzling- is that in 2010 Giannoli receives the "Ordre des Arts et des Lettres" in the Chevalier degree; award given by the Ministry of Culture to people that distinguishes themselves by their creations in the artistic or literary domains.

His sixth feature film is Marguerite, which is in competition for a Golden Lion at Venice fest this year. A drama -that from the little I have been able to see, believe is more a comedy than a drama-loosely inspired by the life of American Florence Foster Jenkins. Set in the Golden Twenties film starts Catherine Frot as a wealthy socialite and aspiring opera singer who believes has a beautiful voice, but in reality is always out of tune. Perhaps now you will agree that film seems more a comedy than a drama but undoubtedly has to be a darker comedy, more than the regular French silly-comedy style that I highly dislike.

Have seen almost all Giannoli films and do not particularly enjoy Catherine Frot performances; but have to admit that lately have been seeing quite a few Frot films on cable TV and well, they're not bad as they are good light entertainment. Not really excited with film so have no expectations, still I'm looking forward to check critics initial reactions to perhaps increase my interest in film.

Basic info about Marguerite
Director: Xavier Giannoli
Scriptwriter: Xavier Giannoli and Marcia Romano
Language: French
Runtime: 127 mins
Production Countries: France, Belgium and Czech Republic
Production Companies: Fidélité Films, France 3 Cinéma; Scope Pictures, Sirena Film
Distribution: Memento Films Distribution (France), Imagine (Belgium), Artcam (Czech Republic), Memento Films International (Sales Agent)

Cast: Catherine Frot, André Marcon, Michel Fau

Plot Summary
1921, The beginning of the Golden Twenties. Not far from Paris. It is party day at Marguerite Dumont’s castle. Like every year, an array of music lovers gathers around a great cause at the owner’s place. Nobody knows much about this woman except that she is rich and that her whole life is devoted to her passion: music. Marguerite sings. She sings wholeheartedly, but she sings terribly out of tune. In ways quite similar to the Castafiore, Marguerite has been living her passion in her own bubble, and the hypocrite audience, always coming in for a good laugh, acts as if she was the diva she believes she is. When a young, provocative journalist decides to write a rave article on her latest performance, Marguerite starts to believe even further in her talent. This gives her the courage she needs to follow her dream. Despite her husband’s reluctance, and with the help of a has-been divo, both funny and mean, she decides to train for her first recital in front of a crowd of complete strangers. Loosely inspired by the life of Florence Foster Jenkins.


Marguerite - International trailer english...

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