27 November 2015.
Neptune Ravar Ingwersen reviews film extensively for publications in Switzerland. She views 4 to 8 films a week and her aim is to sort the wheat from the chaff for readers.
A RICH WEEK OF RUSSIAN and FRENCH FILMS!
FRANCOFONIA **** (vo Russian with French subtitles)
Ah, the depth of the Russian soul… This quasi-documentary, or rather visual essay on art, culture and war, by the grand director Alexander Sokurov, is the epitomy of Russian talent. As with his magnificent “Russian Ark”, filmed entirely in the Hermitage, the narrator here leads us into the early years of the Louvre museum, with the paintings that adorn its immense halls and its evolution through the two great wars. Napoleon is also there, announcing that he created it all. And Marianne, France’s historic maiden. Just follow Sokurov’s lead and enjoy his melodious Russian narration. The subtitles we read seem to be profound Haikus that we wish we could jot down so as not to forget. He brings in vintage shots of Paris being taken over by the Germans, the strutting soldiers, the generals, Hitler himself triumphant in front of the Eiffel Tower. In the meantime he is also Skyping from his office with a friend on a cargo ship at sea in a huge storm, that risks losing its containers full of art works. He takes us through the art of portraiture, which he considers ultimately European. And then he introduces two men, the German Metternich and the Frenchman Jaujard, the director of the Louvre during the Occupation. Despite being enemies, in the recreated scenes one can feel the empathy between the two men, both lovers of art. This is a film to savour, like a fine glass of wine or a slow book by Lawrence Durrell.
COWBOYS ***1/2 (vo French)
A gathering of “Western” aficionados somewhere in rural France. A fun family atmosphere with horses, country music and dancing. The mood is light and familiar. A father dances with his teenage daughter – but then she goes missing and the film takes a sombre turn. First-time director Thomas Bigedain guides this fascinating saga (lightly based on John Ford’s “The Searchers”) with a sure hand as it disintegrates into the desperate search of a father for his daughter. It seems she has followed her lover into the Moslem faith and has cut off all contact with her family. François Damiens (of “La famille Belier”) plays the devastated father with intensity, as does Finnegan Oldfield who portrays the son who continues the search throughout Europe and the Middle East. Relationships are destroyed and new ones are born. Here is a film that takes no sides, just shows how things can simply happen, without any rhyme or reason. Very topical indeed.
21 NUITS AVEC PATTI *** (vo French)
Despite the premise being the arrival of a young woman (Isabelle Carré) in a southern French village to arrange her mother’s funeral, this curious tale turns out to be quite hilarious due to Patti, played by the versatile Karin Viard. She’s the carefree local soul that loves to recount her many sexual escapades to whomever is listening. In the meantime, the mother’s body disappears. And the easy-going inhabitants are more interested in the August 15th fête. A strange character (Andre Dussollier) turns up, who may have been an old lover of the mother, and there seems to be magic in the air…And then the daughter’s husband (Sergi Lopez) comes down from Paris to help. It’s all wonderfully French – hard to explain, but a delight – just go and enjoy the bizarre happenings.
Superb **** Very Good *** Good ** Mediocre * Miserable – no stars
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