What’s this movie The Last Mistress? I’ve never heard of it. Tell us about it.
Well, this is a film based on Jules Amédée Barbey d’Aurevilly 1851 novel Une vielle maîtresse (A Former Mistress), which also happens to be the original title of the film. Barbey d’Aurevilly was an aristocrat, a dandy and his works could be classified as romantic. The book was adapted by French auteur Catherine Breillat. Continue reading
Anaïs (Anaïs Reboux) and Elena (Roxane Mesquida) are two sisters on holiday with their parents in their vacation home in the French rivera. Anaïs is Elena’s younger sister. She is fat, complexed and angry. Boys don’t like her. Elena is beautiful, fun and more open. Boys definitely like her, especially this Italian guy Fernando (Libero De Rienzo) they randomly meet at a bar. Like every guy, Fernando has only one thing on his mind. Elena is not ready to lose her virginity, but Fernando gradually talks her into it. Did I mention that Anaïs and Elena share the same room? Awkward! Continue reading
In 2009 Catherine Breillat decided to film Charles Perrault’s famous French folktale Barbe bleue (that’s Bluebeard en anglais). The classic fable was published by Perrault in Paris in 1697, but was set in 15th Century France. The story is about a wealthy French aristocrat who had a blue beard and a passion for young women, namely slitting their lovely throats. His modus operandi included marrying his innocent victims, live with them for a year or less and then kill them. I never really got this story, because I mean come on, why would you kill a beautiful young woman? Continue reading
Jeanne (Anne Parillaud) is a French director shooting a film in Portugal. Her films seem to be strikingly similar to those of French auteur Catherine Breillat. She even likes to cast the same actress (Roxane Mesquida) and is interested in the same themes. Her newest movie is about a young woman’s first sexual experiences with a douchebag who’s just trying to get into her pants (Grégoire Colin). Jeanne is having a hard time shooting the film as her actors don’t seem to be comfortable with the sex scenes. Especially her lead actor is proving to be annoying and vain. But at the end of the day art must prevail (with or without fake penises). Continue reading
In case you hadn’t noticed Catherine Breillat is one of my favorite French auteurs. Brief Crossing (original title: Brève traversée) is one of her highest rated films on IMDb, but not many people have seen it or talk about it. However I’m sure that a lot of people would enjoy this film, because as we will see it has some interesting ideas about sex and sexual encounters, it’s very sexy and do I really need Three Reasons? Yes? Okay, more sex! There’s not a lot of nudity in this film apart from one rather lengthy sex scene, but one could say that the whole film is about sex, although there’s more than that. Continue reading
Not really a trailer, more like a scene from the movie, but it does say bande annonce, which I understand is French for trailer. So I guess that’s the route they decided to go. There’s not much to see in this first look at Catherine Breillat‘s new film Abus de faiblesse (Abuse of Weakness en anglais), except for dialogue between the two leading actors Isabelle Huppert and Kool Shen, who I understand is a rapper.
The film just premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) and will play at the New York Film Festival in October as well. As for an official release date, it’s not clear when the film will be available for general audiences. According to IMDb it is set to be released in February next year in France. I hope they’re wrong, because I happen to be a big fan of Breillat’s work and that just seems like a long ass wait.
Abuse of Weakness is an autobiographical film about “[a] stroke-afflicted filmmaker is manipulated by a notorious con man” (IMDb). Much like pretty much every Catherine Breillat film this will be probably a very personal film dealing with female sexuality. I love this trailer visually, because it feels very European and in-keeping with the style of her previous works.
This week The Spectacular Now may or may not come to your local art house. Wait, it’s not? Oh, right only four theaters (let me guess LA & NY?): No worries! Here are five coming-of-age films that are readily available for you to watch on home video or the internet.
While three weeks ago we discussed young adults in ‘arrested development‘, coming-of-age films are just as popular sub-genre, but they’re actually about young people ‘successfully’ transitioning into adulthood. Why is the genre so popular? Well, Hollywood knows their target audience’s age (bravo!) and so they’ll make movies that speak to them. Also these movies are about “firsts”, mostly focussing on first sexual experiences, because let’s face it that’s what’s interesting.
Most of you might be familiar with the American coming-of-age films and there are a ton of films about the subject. Wikipedia reports more than two-hundred movies, plus hundreds of teenage movies exploring the subject one way or another. Now, not to be a snob, because I love US cinema, but to encourage you to look for a different spin on things let me recommend you four foreign films and only one American. These also happen to be some of my favorite films, so again, not trying to be a snob here.
5. Amarcord (1973, Federico Fellini)
Some say this is Fellini’s most personal film. Looking through his book of dreams (his diary, original title: il libro dei sogni) this summer I found many images he drew that feel like they could fit in the same universe as this film. This film is a glimpse inside his mind and where he grew up. In fact the small town in Emilia-Romagna becomes a character itself. Amarcord means, translated from the local dialect, “mi ricordo”: I remember. Memories tend to be fuzzy, they tend to have a dream-like quality, and we can all agree that films are like dreams. This film got a lot of critical acclaim, but you should watch it because it’s also funny (in typical Fellini fashion) and melancholic and if you’re a Fellini fan: This is one of his best films and he has one of the most impressive filmographies I know of.
4. Show Me Love (1998, Lukas Moodysson)
Fucking Åmål (original Swedish title) is the story of two teenage girls and their romantic relationship. The film is set in a small town in Sweden and Moodysson shows just what it’s like to be a teenager in school, the relationship with your parents and your peers. Living in the German-speaking part Switzerland I found that a lot of the things I experienced or felt were the same as in this film. When I watch American films it feels distant, I can still connect, but this actually felt as if it was about my youth, even though I never was a Swedish teenage girl. This film is honest, it perfectly captures the time and place, it’s sweet and romantic and everything I love about Moodysson. It’s about wanting to get away from home, and feeling trapped in a small town and I certainly knew that feeling growing up.
3. The Virgin Suicides (1999, Sofia Coppola)
Who hasn’t thought about suicide at least once in their life? Certainly growing up you think about it a lot. Sofia Coppola’s début feature film is already a beautiful, tender film, but a very depressing one. Tonally, it’s unlike anything she has directed since. Every time I watch it it makes me sad and I totally feel like the Lisbon girls, although I don’t kill myself at the end. Even at this early stage of Sofia’s career she’s great at directing young actors, capturing the 1970s essence and drawing you into the film with great music and spectacular cinematography. I don’t know if I’d recommend this film to depressed people, but it’s certainly the best American coming-of-age film I know, because Sofia doesn’t shy away from uncomfortable subject matter and is not afraid to show what it truly feels like to be a teenager. There is also a mystery element to the film which gives it an aura of weird sadness.
2. Fat Girl (2001, Catherine Breillat)
À ma sœur! (literally: to my sister) is a film about two sisters competing with each other. One is beautiful, but very naïve when it comes to sex, the other is, well fat and unattractive, but a bit more street smart. Both are on summer vacation and the film is about their first sexual experiences and how that changes the dynamic between them. It’s also about depression and apathetic parents. Like most of Breillat films it shows you explicit sex scenes that aren’t sexy. It’s raw, but always loving even when it’s uncomfortable to watch. The beauty of it is that Breillat doesn’t judge its characters, in fact this film is partly autobiographical. I haven’t seen all of her films yet, but I think this is without a doubt her masterpiece. I have to re-watch it because it’s been a while, but it’s definitely in my top 100 and the ending is just jarring. If someone says they saw it coming, they’re lying!
1. Turn Me On, Dammit! (2011, Jannicke Systad Jacobsen)
This was one of my favorite films of 2011, and that was a great year for film, but Få meg på, for faen made the top 10. From the first scene of the film, which is Helene Bergsholm masturbating on the floor, I knew this was going to be a great one and it was. Much like Show Me Love this is about a teenage girl who wants out of her small town in Norway. She has these weird sex fantasies that lead to her getting a “bad” reputation, you know how quick that can happen in small towns. It’s a funny film, it’s very ‘girly’ sometimes, which makes it cute and ‘innocent’ even if it does treat some adult themes. I also like the look of this film and the costumes (sounds weird to say I know), I look forward to checking out more films by Jacobsen. As I always say: We need more women directing!
That’s it for this week. The films were in chronological order, not order of preference, because I don’t have the heart to do that. I realize the sub-genre is vast and these five films barely scratch the surface so I’ll go ahead and recommend the films of John Hughes for those of you that want something more American and mainstream and Gregg Araki if you’re more on the indie side. If you feel that there were films that I left out that absolutely need to be mentioned, please leave a comment and let me know!