7 July 2017.
Two fine French films this week – the AC’d cinemas will cool you down!
VISAGE, VILLAGE **** (vo French)
This is a magical film that is based on reality. Magical, because it is engined by the amazing photo van of JR, who is an urban photographer; and realistic, because it’s Agnès Varda’s loving vision of ordinary people in the villages and countryside of France, giving various characters their moment of glory.
This documentary is the love child of JR, the young installation artist, and Varda, the veteran 89 year-old filmmaker who have concocted a delightful homage to the importance of simple individuals – postmen, factory workers, ex-miners or waitresses.
They go from town to village, checking in on different people, listening to their stories, taking their photos – which spurt out of the side of that magical van of JR’s in gigantic versions – and then paste them on the sides of their homes or on town walls, giving each person the acknowledgment that we all long for but so seldom receive. That is the beauty of this project and it’s ultimate message: we are each important in some way, so why not show it in a BIG way?!
It is touching, informative, funny, nostalgic and magical. Especially magical, because it will leave you filled with joy at being part of such generous humanity. That’s what these two wonderful, disparate artists have created together. And what you should not miss.
LES HOMMES DU FEU *** (vo French)
French director Pierre Jolivet also appreciates the ordinary man with ordinary jobs. His films, such as “Ma petite entreprise” or “Mon Idole” zero in on such characters. His latest film is about a team of firemen in a small town in southern France, about their heroisms and their personal lives.
There is something that is inherently moving about the courage of firemen. They are there to serve us and to save us when necessary, at a huge risk to their own lives. Roschdy Zem, Jolivet’s favorite actor, portrays the head of the fire squad. It is the height of summer and some suspicious wildfires have been breaking out. A new female addition (Emilie Dequenne) to the squad brings some tension and questions. There is the possibility of a teenage culprit in those fires, and also a bit of misogyny raising its inevitable head.
Here’s a strong story of good people having to work together, in dousing more than just actual fires; an earnest tribute to the different shades of us all…
Superb **** Very Good *** Good ** Mediocre * Miserable – no stars
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.